Viewers become active participants in immersive TV

Virtually represented viewers can interact live
Virtually represented viewers can interact live
2 July 2003

Imagine being able to participate live in your favourite TV game show from the comfort of your armchair. New satellite services could make passive viewing a thing of the past.

New services that pull home viewers into TV programmes are on their way. Real-Time Immersive TV shows (RTI-TVS) aim to make programmes more interactive. In addition to quizzes, applications will also include so-called edutainment programmes. Trials of the new services are due to begin early next year.

Backed by the European Space Agency (ESA) Luxembourg-based software developer Cybercultus is working on a project in co-operation with Radio Télévision Belge Francophone (RTBF).

The company’s software will be used for the first time on 'Genies en Herbe’ - a popular Belgian children's programme. A trial of the new version of the show is scheduled to start in the beginning of 2004.

Cybercultus is working to make the software operate on global interactive television (iTV) infrastructure and integrate many features: from satellite broadcasting to digital TV monitors. In the future, the potential exists for a two-way interface that sends back data to the broadcaster by satellite. This goes one step further than currently available systems that use phone lines or sms.

Content can be accessed with a set-top box. The device adds functionality to standard TVs, and in this case allows interactivity. Thousands of participants will be able to connect to the system, with the actual interaction managed over a web server. Users navigate using a pad, which consists of a combined game control and alphanumeric keyboard. A rendered display of participants appears on digital television screens.

Virtually represented viewers can become actual participants in a quiz; it will even be possible to compete directly with the teams playing in the studio. The viewer will be able to communicate reactions (happiness, anxiety, curiosity, etc.), answer questions, exercise skills and take part in votes.

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